Sunday, November 30, 2008
My name is Francois-Marie Arouet. I was born on November 21st, 1694 in Paris. I went to a Jesuit school, where I received my education. When I was 16, I befriended some aristocrats in Paris and used my wittiness to entertain Parisian society. Unfortunately, my satirical attitude offended the French government and I was imprisoned for eleven months. While in prison, I wrote my first major play, Oedipus, and also adopted my pen name, Voltaire. A pen name would protect me from the government. After insulting Chevalier De Rohan, a nobleman, I was forced to choose between imprisonment and exile. I chose exile and moved to England for three years between 1726 and 1729. I was driven to read John Locke’s philosophy and also was very interested in Newton’s math and science. I later wrote a book praising English customs, but mostly John Locke. I am not an atheist, though many historians will argue that I am. I strongly believe that God exists, though in reason, not religion. In A Treatise on Toleration, I say that we should regard all men as our brothers; Virtue is Better than Science. I also think that individual freedom is important. I died in France in 1778. Someone stole my remains 36 years later and left them in a garbage heap.